Speaking of me opening my mission call, I just realized yesterday that this upcoming week is a pretty big week for me, as milestones go. On Wednesday is my 8 month mark. It’s insane to think that a third of my mission has already come and gone. Also on Friday is the 1 year mark since I opened my mission call and found out that I would be serving in Cambodia. (that’s the one that really blows my mind. That day seemed like just yesterday!) And on Saturday it’s my 6 month mark since landing in Cambodia. It’s insane how fast time has blown by. But I've come to realize that when you stick your nose to the grindstone it’s definitely pretty hard to look up and see the clock!
This week was so good. We have been working with all our heart, might, mind, and strength to try and further the work of the Lord here in Stung Mean Chey! Watching Elder Uhi this last week makes me laugh, because he reminds me exactly of how I was that first week. I was absolutely dead tired but I didn't want to slow down Elder Johnson at all so I just kind of kept trudging along with this zombie look on my face. That’s how it has been for Elder Uhi this last week. He keeps apologizing that he's so tired and I have to keep telling him "Haha look Elder, it’s ok! I just got out of training, and I vividly remember how tired you get." Especially those first couple weeks it is so hard because the jet lag is still taking a heavy toll on you, and you're not used to the meal schedule (which is typically breakfast 6:30, lunch 12:00 or 1:00 and dinner at 8:30). You're starving all the time because you're used to eating snacks all the time and you're used to the unlimited cafeteria food. On your mission you talk to more people in one day than you ever have before, you walk in the hot sun all day, you teach about complex metaphysical concepts in a simple and concise way, and to top it all off, you're doing all of this in an incredibly complicated language which you have been learning for only 2 months! So yeah, you could say training is pretty rough on the mind, body, and soul. Elder Uhi is taking it like a champ though. At 4 o'clock when our appointment falls through and we have nobody else to meet, I absolutely know with all my heart that he just wants to keel over and take a nap over on the garbage heap across the road. But he always throws aside his tiredness and keeps working hard! He's such a great missionary! I'm learning so much from him. He is so incredibly humble and meek. He is going to be an amazing leader here in our mission!
I love the people we teach so much. One I particularly love is Thol. He's a recent convert that Elder Kim and I baptized a few weeks ago. He is golden as golden gets. Bishop just called him to be the Young Men's president. He goes out and helps us teach investigators all the time. We just confirmed his brother-in-law Vin, last Sunday. They're both so good! They're both going to be receiving the Aaronic priesthood this next Sunday. So will Vichika, who we also confirmed last Sunday. As Elder Khanakhan, the Area Seventy who came to our ward for all three hours yesterday, put it: "This guy is 18 but he looks like he is 8!" I have never felt such an older brother-younger brother relationship with anyone else I've ever met in my entire life than I feel now with Vichika. We go over and teach him probably about 3 times a week. He has changed so much since Elder Kim and I started giving him the lessons. He is so smart. He instantly understands everything we teach him. Oh gosh, I love that guy so much! I can't wait for him to go and serve a mission!
Last night Elder Uhi and I taught this family for the first time. The dad had actually stuck his head in the door a couple times when we were teaching Thol (he lives just a few rooms away) and I invited him and his family to go to church and I took down his number and I called him and reminded him Saturday, and him and his family ended up coming! It was such a great sacrament meeting for them to come to too, because we had the entire Stake presidency speak, as well as an Area Seventy. And then at 6 o’clock that evening we went over and taught them the message of the Restoration. They're so good! I'm excited to keep teaching them! It’s hard to meet with them though (like most people here), so we can only meet them on Sundays.
Mom, last week you asked me what my word would be for this year. I cycled through quite a few words including loyal, virtuous, steadfast, obedient, charitable, faithful, but the one that I kept coming back to, which I kind of decided would be the theme for my mission way back when I was in the MTC, is the word "diligent". In Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel we learn that:
Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. The Lord expects you to work diligently—persistently and with great effort and care. A diligent missionary works effectively and efficiently. Diligence in missionary work is an expression of your love for the Lord and His work. When you are diligent, you find joy and satisfaction in your work.
Do many good things of your own free will (see D&C 58:27). Don’t wait for your leaders to tell you what to do. Continue until you have done all you can, even when you are tired. Focus on the most important things and avoid wasting time. Pray for guidance and strength. Plan regularly and effectively. Avoid anything that distracts your thoughts or actions.
"I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work." (President Ezra Taft Benson)
Diligence isn't just something that applies to our behavior though. Are we diligent in our thoughts? Do we keep our sacramental covenant by always remembering Christ? Are we diligent in our words? Do we only say things which uplift, and which invite the Spirit? Are we diligent in our prayers and our scripture study? In fulfilling our callings? In our family history work? In our temple attendance? In our family home evening observance? In our member missionary work?
Here's a scripture I want to share with y’all really fast. It’s about member missionary work. It’s D&C 38:40-41:
And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and also member, go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.
And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.
So there you go... Opening our mouths and sharing the gospel is a commandment not just for missionaries, but for all members! I know we will all realize greater happiness as we seek to follow this sacred commandment.
Ok I love all of y’all so much! Goodbye!